This past Friday, I had one of those experiences that you never really expect to have when you go abroad to another country. I really hadn’t heard anything about it, and looking back, I wonder if things would have gone differently if I had. But either way, I walked right into it without ever seeing it coming.
One Friday, I came home to my house after a long day of classes. And at that point, as usual, I could only think about food. So, I crept upstairs to get a sneak peek at dinner before I sat down to solidify the plans I had made with some friends that night. When I walked in, my jaw dropped. What I saw in that kitchen, I had never seen the likes before. I knew that this would change everything, change the rules of laws I’d never questioned. And my plans, my plans would lie there in their impermanence, never to be solidified. Now, you’re probably really curious as to what’s going on. And the really clever ones probably think they even have it figured out. But let me assure you, there is no type of preparation for what I’m about to share.
So like I was saying, my jaw dropped. But that’s slightly inaccurate. My jaw dropped last. My nose registered everything first. I was hit with a wave of different aromas all at once. Sweet, spicy, tangy, bitter, good, great, amazing; I had no idea my nose could register so many different scents. Then my eyes noticed it. There, before me, was a feast. There were cheeses: chive, sweet chili, blue, white cheddar, others. There were crackers: salted. Smoked salmon lay sliced into thin strips in its preparation to lie perfectly on a cracker. There was garlic bread, Dim Sim (a Chinese inspired meat dumpling style food very popular in Australia) and capers. And these were just the appetizers. I could go on and on about the food, and needless to say, I quite enjoyed it. But that was just one of many surprises.
Today would be the day I remembered as my host mom’s birthday party. Later that night, the house was flooded with guests I had never seen before (about eight) and conversations about life, culture and “glory days” that I could not have prepared for. Yet surprisingly, I found I didn’t really have to. I really enjoyed it. They seemed to be as interested in my life as I was in theirs. I mean, granted, they were lawyers and computer specialists. They were painters and musicians. They had jobs and careers. And yet, they found some interest in my college-level decision making ability and indecisiveness in life plans. Maybe there was something reassuring, some type of preserved innocence in being undecided about the future. We traded college stories and experiences as they encouraged me to take my time in deciding my future. We finished with a grand finale: a music piece played by Brian, a family friend and talented musician, joined not only by one of his friends, but also my housemate and friend from Richmond, Shohsei, who had been dying to play guitar and was finally able to find one to play in Australia. Our host family knew he played guitar, but was shocked to see how incredible he actually was. And as everyone sang happy birthday and applauded, I realized how glad I was that I stayed in that night.